Recently Discovered

DIY Vegan Cheddar Cheese

What do you do when you have a food craving and don’t have that food item in your house or a crucial ingredient is missing? You do-it-yourself (make-it-yourself in this case)! I wanted to make cheesy Mac, but didn’t have the Daiya cheddar cheese in the fridge nor did I want to drive to the grocery store. Most recipes for homemade vegan cheese require cashews or some other nut. Since nuts are an absolute life threat in my household, I had to find an alternative. So, I just winged it and came up with this very tasty cheddar cheese. I wasn’t particular with the measuring and ended up having a great amount leftover, so I also ate some of this homemade cheese with quinoa tortilla chips afterwards. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  1. Carrots (6 peeled and boiled baby carrots)
  2. Potatoes (2 peeled and boiled)
  3. Nutritional yeast (1 cup)
  4. Salt (1/4 tsp)
  5. Garlic (1 clove or 1 tsp of garlic powder)
  6. Water (1 cup)

I threw all ingredients into my high speed blender and this is the end product.   

  

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Uncategorized

Vegan Cheddar cheese

There a few vegan cheese brands that exist. Daiya just happens to be one of my favorite brands.  I also think this particular brand is available in a variety of stores, rather than solely at the natural foods stores. Daiya makes block style cheddar cheese, shredded style cheddar cheese, and sliced cheddar cheese.  I use this block style if I want to cut shapes or make a fun cheese and cracker plate for the kids. Either style of Daiya’s cheddar cheese melts nicely and tastes great for that dairy and nut free cheddar cheese craving. 

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Recently Discovered

Whipped Cream

I recently discovered dairy-free whipped cream! Rice whipped cream (for those gluten-free or soy-free folks) or soy whipped cream. Whether it is for your hot chocolate or to top off your desserts, it is vegan and halal so indulge yourself! 

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Snacks, Sweets

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love oatmeal raisin cookies, especially with a sandwich, or with a glass of cold milk, or with a cup of hot chocolate, or as an anytime of the day snack. I am particularly a fan of the chewy, soft oatmeal raisin cookie without nuts. I have mostly gobbled down oatmeal cookies that have eggs and/or dairy butter as an ingredient.  I have tasted a few vegan oatmeal raisin cookies, but those usually contained nuts or weren’t as tasty nor chewy.  I found the best vegan oatmeal raisin cookie and it is located at Trader Joe’s.  Bravo to Trader Joe’s for accurately naming this cookie Chewy, chunky oatmeal raisin cookie. It is a perfect title. Notice how they put vegan inconspicuously on the label, too? It is probably because vegan foods typically have the reputation of not being as delicious as its non-vegan counterpart. 

The additional good news is that the bag contains a very generous amount of cookies for a very low price. Check out the pictures. And yes, the bag is empty less than 24hours after purchase. I really love oatmeal raisin cookies…

  

 

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Snacks

Cheesy snack

Call it however you would like (Cheesy crackers, Cheez-its, Goldfish crackers, Cheese squares, etc), but everyone can appreciate and crave a cheddar cheese snack or binge.  These Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares have succeeded in creating a delicious cheesy snack.  I initially purchased this for my children when I saw this at our favorite expensive natural food store.  Since I don’t have a dairy allergy, I decided that I should have the honor of taste testing and comparing it to the dairy cheese snacks before I offer it to my children. Unabashedly, I ate the whole box.  In my defense the box isn’t that big (based on my foodie standards) and they taste great, without the junk food guilt! Luckily, I had another box and the children loved them, too.

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Dinner, Lunch, Snacks

Fried Chicken Bites

Who doesn’t love fried chicken?!?! If you have dairy or egg allergies, you are used to hearing fried chicken recipes using egg or buttermilk as a binding agent for the flour coating. Even the store-bought fried chicken or restaurants have allergens that keep me away. Believe me, I have looked and am always looking for convenient and good food! Hence my solution is to make it myself. I discovered that cooking up this halal, dairy-free, egg-free dish when I’m craving fried chicken was my best option. This super easy recipe can be easily paired with anything or nothing and it is still delicious. Watch out because you might find yourself eating this more frequently than expected (Ok, maybe that’s just me…).  

Ingredients:

Raw boneless and skinless chicken breasts

Flour

Soy milk (or any dairy-free milk)

Salt (and/or optional multi-seasoning)

Oil

Preparation:

Cut up the chicken breast into small pieces of your size preference. Season the chicken pieces to your taste.  Put flour into one bowl with a dash of salt and stir. Put soy milk (or any dairy-free milk of choice) into another bowl. Pour oil into a frying pan and heat up the oil in the frying pan on your stovetop. Dip each of the chicken pieces into the dairy-free milk then dip into the flour. Dip each chicken piece again into the dairy-free milk and then dip each piece again into the flour. Shake off excess flour of each piece and then place each chicken piece into the hot oil. Fry on each side evenly. When each side has reached the desirable shade of brown, remove from the fried chicken pieces from the hot oil, placing the fried chicken pieces onto a plate with a towel to catch any oil underneath. Then towel blot the top of all chicken pieces to absorb any excess oil. 

This doesn’t taste as delicious when it is reheated in the oven. Tastes best when eaten hot, but then again there usually aren’t leftovers to reheat when you make these chicken bites…
  
 

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Dinner, Lunch, Recently Discovered

Dairy-free mozzarella cheese

I love cheese. I could blame the lasting effects of French colonization and its influence on my heritage or it could just simply be that foods taste so good with cheese. I do have dairy cheese in my house, but because of the allergies in my household, I always stock dairy-free cheese. Which one is best? There are so many choices for dairy-free cheese. I know, because I have purchased and tried most of them. I usually buy Daiya’s dairy-free cheese products. They have a variety of styles  (shredded, slices, block, wedges, etc) and flavors (mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, etc). I typically purchase Daiya products at Whole Foods, but when I saw that Trader Joe’s now sells a dairy-free mozzarella shredded cheese for less than $3.50, I was elated! I still buy Daiya products (which are never less than $5), but love the idea that a convenient, cheaper option exists.

It was almost hidden. I regularly frequent Trader Joe’s and I am always on the lookout for new and edible products. I even check different Trader Joe’s locations, as they tend to stock based on customer demand. Initially, I always only noticed that they have a soy-cheese alternative block style, but it isn’t dairy-free. It has dairy in it. This dairy-free shredded mozzarella package is located among the other packages of dairy cheese shreds.

I use it in a variety of ways like for pizza, manicotti, salad toppings, lasagna, even Alfredo sauce when I don’t have dairy-free parmesan cheese in stock. Enjoy!

  

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Breakfast, Recently Discovered, Snacks

Tasty Dairy-free Cream Cheese

The New Yorker in me couldn’t help but to buy this and of course ate it with…a bagel. I was happy when I found this at Trader Joe’s for less than $3. I was happier (and relieved) that I didn’t have to trek to that very well known, very expensive natural foods store to buy a dairy-free product. This product gets two thumbs up from me and one of my children. I already have plans to make dairy-free cheesecake, dairy-free cream frosting, and…

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Dinner, Lunch

Extra Chipotle rice, please?

Undoubtedly, the rice at Chipotle is delicious with whatever other food item you choose to add from their menu. It is so good that I always ask them if I can please have extra rice. The variety of facial and verbal responses that I have received from their server staff doesn’t deter me from asking for more rice each time I go to Chipotle. The long lines don’t deter me. The recent price increase doesn’t deter me, either. I really like the white and brown options they offer. I just had to find out if I could have this rice at the drop of a dime, at any moment. I can and you can, too.  This extremely easy recipe makes you feel like a professional chef (or at least a chef who can work at Chipotle)!

Ingredients:

  • Jasmine rice (3 cups)
  • Oil (2 tbsp)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Fresh cilantro (1/4 cup)
  • Lime or lemon (1/2)

I will preface the steps for making this rice by saying that I always use a rice cooker to cook white or brown rice. I never successfully learned how to make rice in a pot on the stovetop nor do I have plans to master that skill.  Rice cookers are an absolute required appliance (and nice convenience) in my life.

Add the uncooked rice, 1 tbsp oil, and salt to the rice cooker pot and press cook. Finely chop the fresh cilantro. I never chopped cilantro before, so I admit that I just chopped everything (including the stem) and it is fine and aesthetically acceptable in this rice. Then squeeze 1/2 of a lime (through a strainer or sieve to avoid seeds in your rice!). Add this lime juice to your cilantro with a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp oil. Stir the cilantro, salt, oil, and lime juice. Add this cilantro mix to your cooked rice. Fluff rice with a fork and enjoy.

*You can tweak the cilantro mix and add more or less of any ingredient, if you want more of a particular flavor. I didn’t want my rice turning too green from the cilantro mix, so I didn’t put too much cilantro. I also didn’t want a strong lime flavor, so I used 1/2 a small lime instead of a whole lime.

 
Pair this with whatever you desire or eat alone (but why would you not eat it with chicken, or steak, and beans, and lettuce and…).


Quick and easy, but mostly delicious!

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Recently Discovered, Snacks, Sweets

Are these Fig Newtons?

I was at Trader Joe’s and something caught my eye. A sign that said $1.99 Fig Bites. I’ve been down that particular isle in the past and I never noticed this delicious snack that I so loved as a kid. They were called Fig Newtons when I was a little girl in New York City. I remember loving how their “cookie” looked different than any cookie in the supermarket at that time. Their shape, color, and taste blew me away. They were also packaged in such neat rows, which appealed to my mini-OCD personality self.

Aside from the sticker price being extremely nice, there weren’t any of our food allergens listed. I unabashedly put it in my shopping basket, even though it was not on my shopping list. I was with my children and one of kids asked me if there were any allergens listed in the ingredients. I happily said “No” and opened them immediately after we purchased them (actually, I waited until we were in the car with our tinted windows before I ate 3 fig bites. I shared it with them, too, they loved them! These fig bites receive all positive reviews from this team.

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(I actually finished the first package so quickly before I could take a picture. So, this is the second package that I bought to take this picture and eat…)

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